Here's a summary of what we do -- it's long, and that's because we have not yet found a good way to describe the co-op in brief terms, alas. We are vast; we contain multitudes.

The Co-op:
We currently offer colocation with fixed or burstable bandwidth of your choosing (instead of the X megabytes per month model). Our connectivity is over a router colocated with FirstLight with a crossover Ethernet connection to their local core. Everything is geared to grow to ensure that we don't oversell our connection... ever (this and similar issues with other ISPs is why we started the co-op). As a member, the co-op will secondary DNS for you (and even front DNS as primary for you if you don't want your system's nameservice visited by the outside world), delegate a subdomain to you if you don't have a domain, and give you control of your inverse DNS records (via direct delegation or the method described in rfc2317, which is really easy to implement and requires no special software).

We never have less bandwidth to our upstream than the aggregate total of our entire membership at burst. I.e., we never oversell, not even a little.

We're a real (Illinois incorporated not-for-profit, federal 501(c)(12) tax-exempt organization) co-op, so pricing is falling regularly as our consolidated buying power and membership grows. That userbase is mostly computer (tech, law, and security) professionals at present.

Here's a blurb from our member tech documentation:

We'll secondary your DNS zones. In fact, you can tell the world we're primary if you want, just so long as you run your own mini DNS server from which our server can refresh your zones.

You can control your own INVERSE DNS (number -> name) translation. If you're already running a name server, pick one of your domains, and set up entries for each of your IPs; so if you have, and want to use rfc2317 style delegation you could set up in your zone:

     33 IN PTR
     34 IN PTR
     35 IN PTR
     36 IN PTR
...we'll do the rest.

If you have no domain, you CAN HAVE one from us! We're happy to delegate subdomains based on your login. So, if your login is "plonk" -- you can have * to play with (Thus, the above inverses would resolve to something like Mail will be MX'd under your control, CNAMES yours to decide, number of names at your reasonable discretion, etc. Of course, you do have to have a nameserver someplace to handle it, even a mini one; see above.

ISPFH will also accomodate non-ISPFH-network nameservers for your domains, eiher to feed them info (as a master server, though the zone still needs to be mastered on a machine under your control) or to get your zone info from them (instead of from a machine on your ISPFH network).

If you want your own .com, .net or .org domain, you should plan on running a name server on your systems, or you can purchase name service from any of hundreds of providers around the world- but not from ISPFH; we'll secondary and even act as remote, but we'll have to read it from you. You can use a simple domain name service program and feed/announce only us if you want to be "primary" but hidden from the world.

If you prefer not to run as a subdomain, ISPFH can at your direction MX to a mail server of your choosing. ISPFH will not, however, directly handle, MX, or forward your mail. You should probably be happy about that.

Pricing is about $0.02/kilobit/sec plus fixed costs of connectivity, rack, power and general overhead. The latter costs go down with each new member, while the former goes down with every connectivity milestone we pass with our upstream. All connectivity is dedicated; all is made with the assurance that to the first hop out of our control, there is always sufficient bandwidth to handle the entire membership at full burst.

So, for example, right now, a colocated server taking up 1 RU (1.75" - for example a small SuperMicro box) with 1Mbps of bandwidth for its dedicated use and a /31 subnet (1 IP and a dedicated VLAN/gateway) would cost the member approx $110/mo and function as if it were on a dedicated line of its own. 1Mbps at full usage represents 324 gigabytes per month, for those of you used to the "bytes per month" pricing model.

Our membership (one time buy-in) is $400 + $100 for the first 6 months (whatever kind of connection you get), or $1000 once. The buy-in is a one-time thing. The membership entitles you to a vote and a refund of any excess at the year's end that is not rolled into infrastructure improvements, and the right to get whatever level of connection you want at the co-op's current pricing. You become a part owner, so if the co-op ever dissolves, you would receive part of the liquidation.

Membership is not always open, and once the currently-being-filled rack capacity is spoken for, we'll begin a short waitlist for new members until we have about 40% commitment on expanded space. This helps save existing membership from bearing the costs of unused capacity (which is the greater part of the overhead right now).

If that has not scared you away... you can email us at: b o a r d -at- i s p f h . o r g (you know how to make that work or you would not be looking at joining)

      -Mike Scher, ISPFH Co-op President, 1999-present